Dedicated cyclist Martin McKay, author of the Bothwell Street Cycling Club newsletter, takes a moment to tell us his reflections of being an active traveler in Glasgow during the last decade.
On yer bike – for 10 years
Much like cycling along London Road with a tailwind, when I was asked to write about how cycling in Glasgow has changed over time, I thought – “doddle”. I’ve been commuting to the city centre for around ten years from both the south and the east. I cycle wind, rain, ice, snow and shine.
Has nothing changed?
But I’m sat wondering what exactly to write, because it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. The weather? Global warming has skipped my 6am-7am commute. The roads? The potholes have just relocated somewhere else. The drivers? There are just as many, and the mix of attitudes are just the same. The cyclists? I’m sure there are more, but I couldn’t say how many.
More awareness and more cyclists
And that is the very problem that I face. Ten years is a long time and, just like you never notice that you’ve gotten old until someone buys you slippers for Christmas, the face of Glasgow cycling has changed without me realising it. Because things have changed. The roads are still potholed, but you can now report them using an app on your phone (My Glasgow app for Android and iOS). Cycle lanes have opened up across the city, going beyond just a dashed line on the side of the road.
Drivers have started to notice the increasing numbers of cyclists. Commercial drivers get put through cycle awareness training. There are more cyclists than ever and from all walks of life. Then we have campaign groups, cycling forums, newsletters, group rides and a plethora of other things that were unimaginable ten years ago.
The weather’s still pretty rubbish though.
Future City | Glasgow tells it like it is
But this is all just from my narrow view of those two very short windows of time through the day.
This is why Future City | Glasgow is such a fantastic venture. We can only truly show how far the city has come on through the years by determining real numbers: the data. We can only take it further by using technology to improve access and information for cyclists and (importantly) people who don’t cycle now but might in the future.
Realms of possibility
Let me tell you how I envision the future:
It is getting near finishing time, so I check online to see what the traffic is like on my cycle home and get an estimate of time for the trip. By the time I get to my bike, I check my Glasgow cycling app and find out that a lorry has broken down on the Broomielaw. The app does a quick calculation and works out the best detour, making use of bus lanes and cycle paths where it can. There’s a quick direct route, but twelve large potholes were reported on it in the last two days, so an alternative is given. I cross the boundary into South Lanarkshire, and the Glasgow cycle counter adds another +1 onto its tally, showing an increase in cycling numbers through the winter from last year. By the time I’m home, my neighbour has just left her own work, and the data from my own journey has fed back into the system to give her a more accurate estimated time for her trip home.
It sounds incredible, but the work of Future City | Glasgow has already brought us closer to this future reality than you might think.
As I wrote at the beginning, I commute to and from work each day, and I’ll leave you with one thing I can say for sure. Since April of this year, my office basement bike park has had 4,300 trips to it by bicycle – a fourfold increase on two years ago. If it is the same elsewhere in the city then it’s going to be exciting to see where we go from here.
Are you an active traveler?
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